Columbia Scores Two in the Ninth, Comes Back to Beat Hickory
COLUMBIA, SC - The Fireflies erased a four-run deficit on Wednesday, rallied for two ninth-inning runs and knocked off the Crawdads, 6-5, at L.P. Frans Stadium. The come-back effort was one of the most courageous all season as the Fireflies tied the largest come-from-behind win of the year.
Trailing 5-4 with one out in the top of the ninth, Hayden Senger sparked the rally with a sharp line drive just over Jonathan Ornelas glove at short. In fact, the liner nicked his mitt and fell into left. After the next hitter was retired, it looked like Columbia's (26-32, 50-74) come-back bid would be dashed.
Manager Pedro Lopez, though, called for a pinch hitter and Brian Sharp was sent to the plate to face Hickory (42-26, 75-48) reliever Jesus Linarez (L, 1-1). Sharp roped a single into right and Senger hustled to third. Columbia had the tying run 90 feet away and the go-ahead run on base.
That proved critical because the first pitch Linarez heaved to Gerson Molina was a wild pitch to the back stop. Senger scored to knot things at 5-5 and Sharp moved up to second. Molina later rolled a ground ball to Crawdads first baseman Tyreque Reed. The ball was spinning down the line with a lot of English and the spin completely threw Reed off. He misplayed the grounder and it whizzed by him into right. The single allowed Sharp to score and the Fireflies took a one-run lead into the home half of the ninth.
There, Danny Hrbek - who had just posted a scoreless eighth - retired the Crawdads in order to clinch the win. This was the second time this season Columbia has overcome a four-run deficit to win. On June 24 in Asheville, the Fireflies rallied, a bit more dramatically, for six runs in the ninth to down the Tourists, 8-6.
Columbia had just suffered a devastating 9-8 loss in 11 innings on Tuesday to Hickory in which the visitors lost a 7-1 lead. The Fireflies wasted no time sulking and came back to give the home team a taste of its own medicine on Wednesday. At one point, Columbia found itself down 5-1 before it scored three in the sixth and plated the clutch runs in the ninth.
Hrbek was particularly sharp on the mound. He not only shut out the Crawdads in the eighth and ninth frames, but he also retired the side in the seventh in a pressure-packed moment. With runners at second and third, Hrbek was called upon out of the bullpen to replace Jake Simon. Hrbek got Matt Whatley to pop out to Nick Conti at second to destroy Hickory's plan to pad its lead.
Outside of that bumpy seventh, Simon was wonderful, too. The lefty reliever hurled 2.2 scoreless frames and punched out five. He now has 18 strikeouts over his last four outings (11.1 IP).
Senger finished with a pair of hits, including a double, and two RBIs. Jose Medina hit the ball again and posted his third straight multi-hit game (2-for-4). Medina is hitting .324 over his last 10 games.
The Fireflies can win the series with a victory on Thursday at 7:00 ET.
Bottom 2: Pedro Gonzalez hits his 21st home run of the season. HIC 1, COL 0
Bottom 3: Josh Jung, Tyreque Reed and Ryan Anderson all hit RBI doubles. HIC 4, COL 0
Top 4: With Ronny Mauricio at first, Jose Medina singles to right; right fielder Pedro Gonzalez's commits a throwing error and Mauricio scores. HIC 4, COL 1
Bottom 4: Josh Jung knocks in Jonathan Ornelas from third with a sacrifice fly. HIC 5, COL 1
Top 6: Chase Chambers ropes a run-scoring single to center ... Hayden Senger doubles down the left-field line and scores Medina and Chambers. HIC 5, COL 4
Top 9: Senger scores on a wild pitch ... Gerson Molina drives in Brian Sharp from second with a base hit past first baseman, Tyreque Reed. COL 6, HIC 5
The Fireflies finish up the series with Hickory on Thursday at 7:00 ET. RHP Jose Butto (4-9, 3.57) is set to start and will face the Crawdads' righty Cole Winn (3-4, 5.17). You can listen to the game at FirefliesLiveStream.com.
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